Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 28 May 2008

Elder Pimentel's big space-commander desk in Manchester

Bulletin Board showing Elder Pimentel's and Elder Adams's area

Dear family,

Mark and Angela and their six kids (the ones I wrote about last week) are still amazing. We stopped by their house on Saturday to say hi, and although they had company and were pretty busy, Mark stepped outside and told us, “You know, I’m beginning to think that the things you told us are true!” Apparently they’d encountered a family crisis of some kind this week and prayed for help with it, and it had been resolved. Yay! Then on Sunday they came to church! It was an answer to our prayers. We’d told a lot of people they were coming, and I feel like they got a pretty good welcome from the ward. Unfortunately, they felt really embarrassed because their three-year-old was out-of-control, and they ended up leaving at the intermediate hymn because of it. : ( We saw that they were leaving and stepped out of the chapel to talk to them before they did, and they told us that they’d really enjoyed what they did hear, but their kids were just too crazy for them to stay that day. On Tuesday we went to teach them and brought Peter Robinson, a great ward member who was recently released from being ward mission leader. Unfortunately, everyone in the family was gone except for Mark, and he was in the front yard, locked out of the house. But Brother Robinson and Mark had a great conversation and built a lot of trust, I think. Brother Robinson assured Mark that they didn’t need to worry about their kids disrupting church (he has four tiny grandchildren who wander about the chapel making mischief), and Mark explained that he understood that and that he and Angela had made some plans about how to deal with it in the future. Even though we didn’t get to teach the Williams, it was great to get them connected to Brother Robinson, and he’s coming with us next time we teach. Mark said he didn’t think they could come to church this week, but it sounds like they’re planning on coming after that. So we’re pretty excited.

We have a lot of other great people to teach, too. There’s a couple called Luke and Karen who have three daughters (ages 7, 5, and 3, I think?) who will be getting baptized in September once they get married to each other. Karen was a less-active member, and she and Luke sought out the missionaries last summer – since then they’ve had all the lessons and integrated completely into the ward. They know the ward members better than we do, it seems like. We went to teach them on Sunday night and they shared with us how much the gospel has blessed their lives since they started being taught. There’s a chance I’ll still be here when they get married and baptized, which would be great. Luke runs a coffee shop in Manchester, and he brings home bags of day-old muffins, pastries, and sandwiches almost every day. So whenever there’s a ward activity Luke and Karen provide a lot of the food, and when we come by to teach, we get sent home with a bag of goodies. : )

Not this past Sunday but the one before, an Iranian couple came to church, completely out of the blue. The husband was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, so it was pretty clear they hadn’t been to many church meetings before, but I saw Elder Pettersson (one of the other Manchester South missionaries) sitting next to them during sacrament meeting, so I assumed they were his investigators. They didn’t come to Gospel Principles, though, and we later found out that they hadn’t known where to go after sacrament meeting and had been wandering around the foyer! : ( Fortunately, a good brother in the ward noticed them, realized what was going on, and took them under his wing. By the time he eventually introduced them to us, he’d showed them around the chapel and given them a big stack of Church books including Our Heritage and the Book of Mormon. It turns out they are born-again Christians who had seen the local church building and felt like attending there one Sunday instead of their normal church (the promptings of the Spirit, I’m sure). We went over and taught them during the week, and they were really receptive. Currently (like most born-again Christians) they believe all Christian churches are great and don’t see why the Church is particularly different or more true than the rest of them, but they understood what we taught and were willing to pray about Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. They were also really interested in the Book of Mormon, and we have a Persian-language copy now which we can hopefully deliver sometime this week. Another great family!

On Monday we had an all-mission conference at Chorley – with President Uchtdorf! I’ve known he was coming for several weeks but always forgot to tell you in my email. They took a picture of the entire mission with him and Sister Uchtdorf (Elder Adams ended up standing almost right behind them), which I’ll hopefully get a copy of sometime soon, then we all got to shake hands with them, and then they spoke to us. Sister Uchtdorf has a great sense of humor. She mentioned the importance of keeping our flats clean and told a story about two missionaries who had served in her ward in Germany. One was really messy and one was really neat, so they had trouble getting along, but they resolved the problem by drawing a line down the middle of the apartment and letting the messy missionary put his stuff all over one side. They were both happy and could still have the Spirit with them because they always prayed and studied on the clean side of the apartment. : ) President Uchtdorf gave a great talk about various aspects of missionary work. He was telling us about the rigorous travel schedule he was on and all the countries he’d been to in the previous several days, and I noticed that he also mentioned sleep and how wonderful it is numerous times in his address, so I think he must have been really looking forward to getting some himself. : ) One other thing he dwelt upon that really struck me was the importance of focusing on the most important things in your work. He talked about the Grand Canyon and how the Colorado River had carved it out by channelling through a very specific area – if it had spread out instead, we might have a giant wetland, but we would not have the Grand Canyon – and he explained that one of Satan’s greatest tools is distraction. He mentioned the back cover of Preach My Gospel (which has a list of key things for missionaries to remember) and urged us to use it. Distinguishing between important things and unimportant things is something that is particularly challenging for me, I think, and I’d actually been thinking about the importance of not being distracted in my work the morning of all-mission conference – I’d read over the story of Mary and Martha in the New Testament and recognized that I was “careful and troubled” about a lot of unimportant things. So I appreciated President Uchtdorf’s counsel quite a bit.

Also at all-mission conference, I got to talk to a lot of the missionaries in my past areas and find out what’s going on there. I think I failed to mention in previous emails that Elder Webb and I were both moved out of our flat in Blackpool on the last transfer day – Elder Webb went to the other side of Blackpool (where Elder Prows and Elder Carter had been living) with a new companion and two sister missionaries “whitewashed” into our old area. Anyway, I talked to the Blackpool sisters and they have dated Chris Hale (whom I’ve written about quite a bit) for baptism on June 28th! Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to Blackpool and attend the baptism – we’re allowed to with President Jacobsen’s permission, and I think it shouldn’t be too expensive or difficult to travel there and back.

Let me tell you a little bit about our district. There are three companionships in the Manchester South Ward, so we’re a whole district. Elder Davies and Elder McIntosh are in Altrincham, which is kind of a posh area and is out towards the countryside; (their area includes the mission home and mission office), Elder Pettersson and Elder Phillips are in Wythenshawe, which is a generally rougher and more built-up area, and Elder Adams and I are in Sale, which is somewhere in between. Elder Davies is from Centerville, Utah, and attended Viewmont High; he knows JaLeen, apparently. He’s a really impressive missionary, very organized and on-the-ball, and we’re lucky to have him as our district leader. Elder McIntosh is from Utah Valley and was trained by Elder Webb, so I’ve heard a lot about him already even though we haven’t served near each other. Elder Pettersson is from Sweden. He and Elder Davies went through the MTC together, six weeks after me – Elder McIntosh went through six weeks after them. Elder Phillips is from Rigby, Idaho, and is a runner. He and Elder Adams knew each other quite well before their missions and competed against each other in a state track-and-field tournament (Elder Phillips won). He’s been out about three months. Then there’s Elder Adams, who you know about already. I forgot to mention last time that Elder Adams’ older brother is serving in the Catania mission right now! Pretty cool. He thinks his brother is in Catania itself at the moment.

Thank you for the memory card! I got it at all-mission conference. It should give me all the photo storage space I’ll need. I’m hoping to send some photos today but the USB drive on this computer isn’t working : ( so I’ll need to use Elder Adams’ computer. And I like that the camera is red, by the way – it makes it distinctive. Also at all-mission conference we got our copy of the Conference Ensign (we always get church magazines many weeks late), which I’m pretty excited to read. Especially the talk by Elder Bednar, which I missed.

Elder Adams and I have been going running in the morning, which has been nice, especially when the weather’s been good. It rained pretty hard this morning, though, so we got soaked.

Thanks again for all your letters. It sounds like some pretty exciting things are going on back at home. Guatemala sounds like a great experience for Ruth, and I’ve enjoyed hearing about Ed’s Eagle project. Restoring a cemetery sounds like a great project – I think there was even a New Era article about another such project sometime in the past few years. And I’m sad to have missed out on Lucy’s great concerts. I’ve enjoyed Isaac’s pictures a lot. I especially liked the one with Dad, a sun, and a leprechaun, and the one with the animal and its skeleton. I also recently received nice notes from Uncle Ron and Aunt Sarah and from JaLeen. Uncle Ron shared with me some of the email exchanges preceding Grandma’s birthday weekend (which, if the emails are any indication, must have been dangerously silly). Happy (late) birthday, Grandma!

I love you all! Get some sleep – President Uchtdorf recommends it. : )

Elder Pimentel

P.S. Someone asked about our new mission president. I thought I’d said something about him in a previous email, but maybe not. His name is President Bullock, he’s from the Denver area in Colorado, he’s in his early 50s (I think), and he’s President Boyd K. Packer’s son-in-law. I think one or more of his kids are still living at home, so they’ll come out here with him and Sister Bullock

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